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Misleading Advertorial for “Safe Driving Breathalyzer”

We recently came across an advertorial for “Safe Driving Breathalyzer” on the Sydney Morning Herald online and were shocked by its claims. The advertorial was designed to look like an educational news article on a site for concerned parents. Worse, it sent the message that drink driving is acceptable as long as you check yourself with its breathalyser.

Mr Harold Scruby, the Chairman/CEO of the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA) noticed the advertorial while browsing the SMH website yesterday and brought it to the attention of the publication today.

“In my view, this is a very dangerous and misleading advertorial,” Mr Scruby said.

“Even though it [the advertorial] has a 27 April date, it appeared in a prominent position on the SMH online site yesterday morning.”

He added in his email to SMH that the advertorial posed a very dangerous message to readers.

“Without Australian Standards accreditation and regular recalibration, these cheap devices can be lethal because they produce incorrect readings,” Mr Scruby advised.

“This can lead to people who believe they are under .05% BAC (or .02% BAC is in some cases) driving a vehicle while legally inebriated.”

“And if they kill or seriously injure someone, there is effectively a mandatory jail sentence in most jurisdictions.”

“Safe Driving Breathalyzer” advertorial claims are “dangerous and misleading”

To claim that a breathalyser can save lives is a huge and inaccurate overstatement.

The advertorial shown on SMH promotes the idea that it is okay to drink and drive, as long as one can test themselves on a “Safe Driving Breathalyzer” beforehand.

No publication or advertorial should ever advocate drink driving. Moreover, companies should not provide misleading information such as these in the form of an educational news site, like how this particular company designed their advertorial from a site for ‘concerned parents’.

The advertorial makes a direct connection to concerned parents and how the “Safe Driving Breathalyzer” can help save their children’s lives. It sends a completely inappropriate and dangerous message that drink driving is acceptable, as long they check themselves.

You should never drink and drive as long as you have alcohol in your system.

Even a little bit of alcohol can affect your ability to drive. Alcohol can affect your attention skills, perception, vision, psycho-motor skills, and speed of reaction. All of these are important to your ability to drive safely. As a depressant, alcohol can slow your responses while driving, especially in young teen drivers.

Even if you are under the legal limit, it does not mean that you are safe to drive. The “Safe Driving Breathalyzer” advertorial is irresponsible in not taking these factors into consideration before designing and writing their advertorial.

The advertorial even compares the “Safe Driving Breathalyzer” to those used by police and the military. Note that even breathalysers used by police are not 100% accurate; Even the most accurate fuel cell breathalysers have an accuracy range of +/- 0.005%BAC. As Mr Scruby noted, breathalyser accuracy is dependent on its sensor accuracy and its ability to be calibrated.

The advertorial makes no mention of this and only aims to sell the product. It links only to a checkout page that provides no further information or specifications on the “Safe Driving Breathalyzer”. It does not give potential buyers any information on accuracy or calibration.

The “Safe Driving Breathalyzer” advertorial shown on SMH set itself out to be educational to concerned parents. Worse, it sent a dangerous message to readers regarding drink driving.

Breathalysers are not for drink driving.

Breathalysers are meant as a guide for you to see how alcohol affects your system, but they should never be used as a tool to drink and drive. All our breathalysers bear disclaimers that state this. We absolutely value personal safety and responsible drinking. We strongly believe and advocate that anyone who drinks alcohol should plan not to drive.

Publications need to exercise care when posting advertorials on their sites to its readers. SMH should have checked the advertorial’s contents and investigated its claims before allowing it for publication.

We hope SMH can remove the advertorial from their website immediately. Additionally, we hope that SMH and other publications will take the proper precautionary steps to avoid publishing misleading advertorials such as these in the future.


Vivien Mah

Vivien is a Marketing specialist with over 7 years of experience in the health and safety industry. After graduating in psychology and communications, she grew to love educating readers and unraveling complexities behind difficult topics through extensive research. Apart from sharing her love for infographics, she also posts regularly on new products, announcements, media mentions and the latest news.